The Lima Group condemned the detention of Venezuelan National Assembly Vice President Édgar Zambrano, accused of supporting the April 30 efforts against the regime of Nicolás Maduro. The detention took place after the illegitimate Constituent Assembly stripped Zambrano and other legislators of their parliamentary immunity.
In a statement released May 9, the group said the detention was a “void and unconstitutional action.” Legislators Henry Ramos Allup, Luis Germán Florido, Mariela Magallanes López, José Simón Calzadilla Peraza, and José Blanco Delgado also lost parliamentary immunity for their efforts in support of Venezuelan democracy.
“According to the Venezuelan Constitution, the only institution that can lift parliamentary immunity is the National Assembly,” the release said. “The removal of this privilege without due process by an illegal authority like the Constituent Assembly is an affront to democratic principles and human rights recognized by international law.”
On the evening of May 8, agents of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN, in Spanish), forcefully arrested Zambrano, accused him of “high treason” and took him to SEBIN’s headquarters.
“The regime has kidnapped the Assembly’s first vice president,” said Interim President Juan Guaidó via Twitter. “They are trying to destroy the power that represents all Venezuelans, but they won't get their way.”
Governments of the region condemned Zambrano’s detention and demanded his immediate release.
The Peruvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Néstor Popolizio, Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Holmes Trujillo, and Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Faurie, condemned the congressman’s detention and demanded his immediate release via Twitter.
For his part, Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs Roberto Ampuero also condemned the congressman’s detention. “We hold Maduro’s dictatorship responsible for this new attack on human rights, as well as the intensified repression that Venezuelans suffer.”
“The arbitrary arrest yesterday evening of Edgar Zambrano, first vice-president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, is an unacceptable and illegal act that is yet another reflection of the repression of the former Maduro regime,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 9. “This is an attack on the independence of the nation’s democratically elected legislative branch and is part of the Maduro regime’s continued attempts to crush dissent and free debate in Venezuela.”